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How to Connect and Bond with Children with Special Needs through Music

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This Music Therapy video illustrates the following:

  • Using a rhythmic hand clapping pattern like "Patty Cake," can be a great way to bond with children with autism and other special needs
  • By incorporating dramatic pauses into the song, you can address developmental goals such as expressive language
  • You can also address range of motion, crossing mid-line and shoulder stability goals through this activity
  • Many children with autism crave deep pressure and proprioceptive feedback and this technique fulfills this need
  • This activity can be used to redirect and engage a child with special needs

To read a transcription of this video post, please click here.

Ryan Judd is a board certified music therapist. He has a master's degree in Music Therapy and a bachelor's degree in Psychology, with an emphasis on Child Development. He has been working as a music therapist with children with special needs for more than 16 years. In addition to working one on one with clients, Ryan also leads groups focused on the development of social skills.  His services are available in Southern New Hampshire, Northern Massachussets and Southern Maine.  He lives in the Seacoast region with his wife who is a 1st grade teacher.


  • Oliver Jacobson Thursday, 16 May 2013

    I like this technique! So simple and effective to taget motor skills and social bonding.
    Nice work Ryan!

  • Ryan Friday, 17 May 2013

    Hi Oliver, thank you for the comment! I love the simplicity of this too. No fancy instruments or training needed to use this technique! :)

  • Angie Kopshy, MM, MT-BC Thursday, 16 May 2013

    Thanks for sharing this, Ryan. I utilize techniques like this as well & absolutely agree with all the points you make.
    My favorite is "This Old Man" changed to 'My friend Ryan, he played one. He played...' and cross midline during all of that. Then in between each verse, we stand and spin. :D

  • Ryan Friday, 17 May 2013

    Hi Angie, thanks so much for the comment and the feedback! I love the standing up and spinning in between. Very cool.

  • JoAnn Jordan Thursday, 23 May 2013

    This is one I think a lot of parents will love. Simple and easy to remember.

  • Ryan Thursday, 23 May 2013

    Hi JoAnn, thanks for the comment! The simpler, the better, right? :)

  • Michelle McCarthy Tuesday, 28 May 2013

    I'm so happy I found your website!! I signed up for your newsletter and I really think my son will benefit from these wonderful teachings that you have come up with!! I thank God everyday for people like you :) Keep up the great and beautiful work you do!

  • Ryan Tuesday, 28 May 2013

    Hi Michelle, I'm so happy that you found me too! It is really nice getting feedback from people like you. Thank you so much for the comment! If you ever have any questions, feel free to contact me. I'm here to help.

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Guest Tuesday, 09 August 2022
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